Cartoons revealing how British Tommies endured the horrors of the trenches with a stiff upper lip are going on show in York.
The Castle Museum is hosting the sketches showing how even the grimness of life at The Front could raise a smile.
The drawings were by Albert E V Richards while serving with the 10th Royal Hussars as a Lance Corporal. Produced “somewhere at the front” in 1916, they are based on Richards’ first-hand experiences of the fighting at Verdun. His sources of inspiration were as diverse as disappearing rum supplies, the difficulties of putting out barbed wire and the comic look of comrades wearing gas masks.
Richards’ sketchbook is a highlight of the major new First World War exhibition at the Museum called 1914: When the World Changed Forever, which opens on June 28. Alison Bodley, curator of history, said: “These cartoons offer us a real insight into one man’s experience of being on the front line. They show that ‘stiff upper lip’ humour that many soldiers used to help them get through the horrors of war, the awful conditions and the boredom that affected so many of them.”
“We know little about Richards but he was clearly a gifted artist and also a great observer of what was going on around him.”
The book was donated to York Castle Museum in 1977 but little was known about the artist until the curators began researching his background.
The sketches offered clues he served at Verdun. Papers show he was discharged on February 13 1919 and given the silver badge worn by men to show they had a legitimate reason for not being in the armed forces.
Curators would be keen to hear from anyone who believes they have more relevant information on Richards and his cartoons. They can be contacted by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
The exhibition is part of a £1.7 million project at the museum, made possible thanks to a £1,167,900 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.